Slaw: a vibrant rainbow

Slaw prep, red and green cabbage, yellow bell pepper, carrots, breakfast radishes, and kale.

Alright, let’s talk about slaw.  It’s brilliant for using up all sorts of vegetables, it’s fresh produce ready to eat but fridge stable for a few days, and crazy versatile.  Slaw gives a fresh crunch with a zingy dressing that can perk up almost any meal.  I mix it with salads, even pasta salad type creations (I get a little extra creative sometimes), tacos or other Mexican inspired meals, and breakfast scrambles. 

I admit that a kitchen tool or two will make slaw prep a lot quicker.  I adore my Cuisinart, it’s almost as old as me and a complete rock star.  The grating and slicing blades make quick work of cabbage, carrots, peppers, radishes, celery, and onions.  When I add kale, I generally chop it by hand.  The other non-knife options, especially if I’m making a small batch, are a mandolin for thin slices or even a cheese grater for things like carrots and radishes.  Please be careful with your fingers and knuckles with both those tools, I’ve got more marks from graters than all my other scars combined! 

My base is always cabbage, red, green, or both, and then whatever else looks good!  Try to get a wide rainbow of colors, slaw is great for incorporating a mass of micronutrients, all the different vitamins and minerals found in varying vegetables.  I do avoid softer, leafy greens as they will wilt and spoil more quickly, but you can use up left over broccoli stems or cauliflower core in the mix.

Depending on the intended use, you can bend your slaw ingredients and dressing flavors in multiple directions.  Add snow peas and scallions with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger for a more Asian twist.  Jicama, lime juice, cilantro, and cumin for a more Mexican or Central American flavor.  I generally stick with just a zingy, slightly creamy, American dressing.  My tastes are for strong vinegar flavors so you may want to play around with the ratios of my recipe or try out other recipes, there are tons online!  I list the vegan mayo as optional, I’ve been trying out Sir Kensington’s avocado mayo and the flavor is a little too strong for me, but you can add more for a creamier texture.  I think the recipe works well without mayo as well, closer to a mustard vinaigrette.

Basic Slaw Dressing

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (gluten free if need be)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (or agave)
  • 2 tsp vegan mayo (optional)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped red or yellow onion
  • 2 stalks diced celery

Combine all ingredients except onion and celery and whisk or stir until smooth.  Add onion and celery, stir, and let rest while preparing slaw ingredients.  This pause allows the celery and onion flavors to integrate into the dressing.  This recipe should easily flavor up to 8 cups of shredded vegetables, perhaps ½ a large head of cabbage (or 1 small cabbage), 1 bell pepper, 2-3 carrots, 6-7 small radishes, and a few leaves of kale.  I generally use a full batch within 3 days.  If need be, save some of the dressing in the fridge and prep less of your slaw or save some of the chopped vegetables in a bag, both will keep for longer unmixed.

Mixed slaw

Nutritional Thoughts

Cruciferous vegetables.  Cabbage, broccoli stems, kohlrabi, or even raw Brussels sprouts, tons of cruciferous vegetables can be shredded into a slaw mix.  These vegetables are high in glucoraphanin, a sulfur contain compound that the human body uses for glutathione production and regeneration.  Glutathione is one of our top antioxidants, used largely in the liver’s daily detoxification processes.  Bonus with slaw, the glucoraphanin is highest in raw vegetables (it is partially destroyed when cooked). There is so much more to this family of vegetables, they’re worthy of a full nutrition article in the future!

Apple cider vinegar.  There are a ton of claims on health benefits for raw or unprocessed apple cider vinegar.  There are a few smaller studies that suggest apple cider vinegar may increase insulin sensitivity for type 2 diabetics.   It may also help increase a feeling of fullness and slow stomach emptying, decreasing the amount of food eaten.  Again, they were small studies, and to be fair, there are plenty of studies showing no impact so try it and see if you like it.

3 thoughts on “Slaw: a vibrant rainbow

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